Past Forward

Activating The Henry Ford Archive of Innovation

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No, this little number isn’t a masterpiece from Mr. Warhol, but the iconic artist was surely the inspiration for its recognizable print.

Back in the mid to late ‘60s, disposable apparel made of paper was all the rage, and everyone was doing it, from paper towel producers and pie makers to Hallmark and the Campbell Soup Company. For a couple of Campbell’s veggie soup labels and one buck, you could mail order the Souper Dress.

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Too long? Just get your scissors and cut. Needs mending? Just grab the transparent tape, and pull, tear and repair. Stubborn stain? Just throw the dress away, tuck another dollar in an envelope and mail away for your next fashion fix. Most paper dresses made in the ’60s were actually 93 percent cellulose and 7 percent nylon.

By 1968, the paper fashion fad had fizzled, and the polyester leisure suit was next in line to pop.

For a modern-day, homespun take on the paper dress, check out Fashion by Mayhem.


Looking for more paper dresses? Take a look at this Yellow Pages dress from 1967.

In 1990, a partnership was formed between The Henry Ford and Wayne-Westland Community Schools that would revolutionize the way The Henry Ford looked at community outreach. High School students would spend the first half of their days in the classroom, then be transported to The Henry Ford in taxis where they would spend the remainder of their school day working alongside full-time employees learning vital work skills, forming positive relationships, and creating memories that would last a lifetime.

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Twenty-six years later the foundation of the program remains the same. Students from the district continue to make the daily commute to The Henry Ford (although in school buses rather than taxis) where they work in placements ranging from the William Ford Barn, Firestone Farm, Institutional Advancement, banquet kitchens and restaurants, and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour. They now have the opportunity to obtain additional academic credits by completing online courses, and participate in community engagement by practicing service learning with second-grade classrooms at an elementary school in the district on a weekly basis. Service learning allows our students to give back to their communities, and realize the impact they can have on the lives of others.

The students we serve have been identified by their counselors and principals for being at-risk for graduation. Academic struggles usually stem from a multitude of underlying issues such as an unstable home life, mental/physical health issues, or perhaps just lacking a sense of belonging in this world. People learn in different ways and normal schooling isn’t for everyone; the Youth Mentorship Program provides an atmosphere where students can succeed in an environment different from the traditional classroom.

The Youth Mentorship Program is a source of pride here at The Henry Ford. It’s one of the clearest ways we inspire people to learn from these traditions to help shape a better future, as our mission statement proudly states. Unlike most programs at The Henry Ford, the Youth Mentorship Program caters to a smaller group; approximately 12-15 students per semester. The students have the ability to participate in the YMP for a semester or longer, depending on what their schedule allows. Although small in numbers, we believe the YMP is a program that runs ‘an inch wide and a mile deep.’ Although we have a great desire to reach all youth in need in our community, small group size allows for more one-on-one opportunity as well as an overall intimate atmosphere. A quote we hear amongst our students year after year is how the YMP is truly like a family.

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It’s incredibly inspiring to watch these students learn their place in the world and become good and successful citizens of their community. Whether it’s passing classes and earning credits, serving The Henry Ford’s guests in a banquet kitchen or restaurant, shearing sheep at Firestone Farm, or walking across a stage to grab their high school diplomas, the Youth Mentorship Program opens the eyes of students to opportunities they may never imagined with overwhelming cheers of support. It truly has deep and lasting impact on the students it serves each semester, as well as the students’ families, The Henry Ford staff, and the Wayne-Westland community.

Help us continue making our community impact by making a donation to the Youth Mentorship Program this Giving Tuesday. How can your donation help?

  • $10 can provide a semester's worth of school supplies for a student
  • $30 will help uniform one student
  • $50 supplies a month's worth of meals for a student
  • $200 pays for one online course for a student to complete to earn credit
  • $2,500 provides transportation for one student for the year 
Learn more about this year's Giving Tuesday program at The Henry Ford and make your gift here.

YMP #GivingTuesday from The Henry Ford on Vimeo.

Emily Koch is Youth Mentorship Program Director at The Henry Ford.

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The Henry Ford is a very active collecting institution, which results in hundreds to thousands of new artifacts of all types and sizes added to our collections every year.  From among these, our curators select a subset for near-term digitization, while the rest go into the queue to be digitized as the need arises.

One just-digitized item collected by Curator of Transportation Matt Anderson is the glove worn by Janet Guthrie when she became the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500 in 1977. Visit our Digital Collections to see more artifacts either acquired or “discovered in collections” in the last year—or explore tens of thousands of racing-related artifacts.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

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The copy in this ad references Americans’ voluntary reduction of food consumption during World War I. THF131084

Hot chocolate just might be the perfect drink. The scientific name for the chocolate tree—Theobroma cacao—means “food for the gods.” And for good reason. When mixed with hot liquid and sugar, chocolate has been known to stimulate, to calm, to improve digestion, to enhance the mood, to combat stress, and to promote long life.  All that, and it tastes great and smells divine!

Although a hot beverage using chocolate had originated in the New World with the ancient Aztecs—who consumed it during sacred ceremonies—it came to the American colonies by way of Europe. By that time, it was already a sweet creamy drink, popular with wealthy aristocrats who could afford the expensive imported sugar and spices that went into making it.  In early America, it became a popular substitute to tea after the colonists rejected British tea with its high import taxes (the response that brought on the Boston Tea Party).  

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The famous image on this recipe booklet cover, adopted by the company in 1883, was based upon an earlier painting of a waitress in a Viennese chocolate shop. THF131089

Small-scale chocolate mills sprang up in early America to process cacao beans into chocolate, making the price more affordable than importing the chocolate either from Europe or the West Indies.  In 1765, Dr. James Baker, an American physician, and immigrant Irishman John Hannon converted an old gunpowder mill in Dorchester, Massachusetts, into a mill for manufacturing chocolate. The hardened “cakes” of chocolate that the firm produced lent themselves well to the sweetened chocolate drink Americans loved. Baker’s Chocolate would go on to become an American empire.  Distinctive packaging and extensive newspaper advertising spread its popularity as far west as the 1849 California Gold Rush. 

Through the late 19th century, Baker’s Chocolate was arguably the largest chocolate manufactory in the United States. Its famous logo could be seen everywhere—on billboards, streetcar signs, grocery store placards, and recipe booklet covers.  The company thought it had it made. 

Until Milton Hershey came along.

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Hershey’s Cocoa Recipe Booklet, 1956. THF131107

Hershey, a Pennsylvania Quaker, began his candy business producing caramels. At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he became intrigued by a display of German chocolate-making machinery. He bought the machines and, after a few years of experimentation, came up with a smooth, creamy milk chocolate candy bar.  Soon he was mass-producing chocolate candy bars that, at five cents, virtually anyone could afford. Despite European critics who claimed that Hershey’s chocolate was inferior to the centuries-old chocolates produced in their own countries, Hershey’s acquired such a loyal customer base that many Americans thought Hershey’s chocolate was chocolate.   

As a result of Milton Hershey’s innovations, Americans would soon favor eating chocolate over drinking it. But chocolate-drinking did not die out. It simply took on new forms and appealed to new audiences.  

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These young “flappers” are enjoying Baker’s Cocoa during a late-night sleepover party. THF131083

Cocoa powder (a processed component of chocolate)—easy to carry and prepare—became a popular field ration for soldiers during both the first and second World Wars.  Women emerged as major new consumers of chocolate beverages, for parties and get-togethers.  Hot cocoa was also considered a healthful, life-enhancing food for invalids.  
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Bosco bank, ca. 1930. THF131074


For the first time, despite warnings from critics about tooth decay, acne, and weight gain, chocolate drinks were promoted as a nutritional health food for children—a good way to get more milk into their diets while also giving them increased zest for life.  Bosco, a chocolate syrup first produced in 1928 in Towaco, New Jersey, was advertised as a healthful “milk amplifier” for children.  

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Yoo-Hoo soda bottle, 1955-65. THF131075

Yoo-Hoo Chocolate Flavored Beverage, also originating in New Jersey in the 1920s, was popular with and marketed to young people.  

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Nestle’s Quik ad, 1963. THF131088

By the mid-20th century, chocolate beverages reflected Americans’ on-the-go lifestyle with the introduction of “instant” cocoa powder and chocolate-powdered flavoring mixes.  Nestle’s Quik, produced in the United States although the company originated in Switzerland, was advertised as “the only chocolate milk that makes itself!”

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Swiss Miss Ad, 1963. THF131087

Swiss Miss Instant Cocoa Mix, whose name and packaging were intended to evoke chocolate’s “Old World” roots, became so popular as an easy-to-prepare airline beverage in the 1950s that it soon became available at grocery stores.  

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Bosco ad, 1963. THF125198

These and other “instant” chocolate drinks lent themselves perfectly to advertising through the new medium of television. What Baby Boomer does not remember the “I Love Bosco” jingle from the 1950s and early 1960s? And Quicky the bunny, famous for inhaling Nestle’s Quik at record speeds, debuted in commercials in 1973. At the same time that these commercials promoted chocolate beverages as fun and delicious for kids, they reminded Moms that these drinks were also healthful and nutritious.

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Quicky Nestle’s Quik pitcher, ca. 1985. THF166167

After centuries of preferring chocolate beverages that were increasingly easier, faster, and cheaper, Americans today are turning to a new appreciation for Old World and more traditional forms of chocolate and the beverages using this chocolate.  Maybe this is a permanent trend or maybe it’s just a temporary respite from our fast-paced lives.  Whatever it is, Milton Hershey was certainly on target when he declared: “Chocolate is a permanent thing.”  

Donna Braden is Curator of Public Life at The Henry Ford.

MichiganAgriculture is an important collecting focus for The Henry Ford, so we’re very honored to have the Michigan Farm Bureau join us as a partner. Catherine Tuczek, our curator of school and public learning, sat down with Education Specialist Amelia Miller to talk about the importance of agriculture in today’s classroom.

Why does it make sense for The Henry Ford and the Michigan Foundation for Agriculture and Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom to partner together?
The Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom program strives to provide educators with standards-based lessons which teach about local agriculture through classroom subjects such as science, social studies, English language arts, math and more. To partner with The Henry Ford allows us a direct link to put these lessons in the hands of the teachers. With the historical agriculture exhibits and The Henry Ford’s focus on innovation, it makes sense to showcase modern agriculture, showing the progression in agricultural technologies throughout time. 

Where do most people learn about agriculture these days?
Knowledge of food and agriculture is no different than any other topic. Consumers today turn to social media for information about their food and the way it’s raised. 63% of Michigan consumers say they prefer to purchase products grown and raised in Michigan. Today’s consumer expects transparency between farmers, food processors and consumers. About half of U.S. consumers want to learn about food safety and the impact of food on their health directly from food labels; while about 40% want to learn about animal well-being, environmental impact and business ethics from company websites. (source: Center for Food Integrity

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What are common misconceptions children have about agriculture? 
Many students (and parents!) draw conclusions from their immediate surroundings. Less than 2% of the U.S. population live on farms or ranches, with this disconnect comes misconceptions. Often, students guess their milk comes from a grocery store cooler rather than a dairy cow. Careers in agriculture don’t just mean working on a farm, from sales and marketing to plant science to animal health jobs are available in business, biology, mechanics, and more. Today’s agriculturalists are very technology-savvy people. Farmers utilize advancements in plant breeding and genetics to grow more food on less land while utilizing less water, fertilizer and pesticides than ever before. 98% of Michigan farms are family owned rooted in the tradition of raising plants and animals in our Great Lakes state. No matter the size of the farm, these farmers are working to take care of the land, animals, plants and the environment.

RM_Mar222016_5326How can agriculture enrich traditional curriculum like science, social studies, math or English Language Arts? 
Agriculture can be the tangible subject which brings any content area to life. With educational trends focusing on inquiry-based learning, agriculture provides a living platform to ask questions or present scenarios. Beginning in preschool, students explore basic plant science through growing seeds, labeling plant parts and drawing conclusions that some plants produce edible fruits or vegetables. Similarly animal science can be integrated into cell biology, nutrition or physiology. When we think about advanced science, we also think about math.

MurrayLakeChicksLifeCyclePhoto_websizeThese two foundational concepts go hand in hand as students progress in physics, chemistry and biology all of which are necessary in plant, animal and food science. Agriculture, food and natural resources is Michigan’s second largest economic sector, easily connecting to third and fourth grade social studies. The Mitten State’s unique geography creates many microclimates which allow our state to be the second most diverse food producing state in the nation, growing more than 300 different agricultural commodities. Not to be forgotten, English Language Arts (ELA) can tie all these subjects together. Particularly at elementary levels, reading and ELA is of a primary focus. Utilizing recommended Agriculture Literacy texts and their partnering lesson plans, teachers can pair ELA standards with connecting science standards within one lessons.

Noll-113How can agricultural education enrich children’s personal lives? 
There is great reward in seeing the fruits of our own labor. Learning to care for the land or animals is one of our most basic life skills. With trends focusing on unplugging from our electronic device toting society and theories about “Nature-Deficit Disorder” creating the “No Child Left Inside” movement, agriculture education encourages children to learn from the environment. Hands-on lessons focusing on growing plants, caring for animals or studying natural resources gets students out of the classroom. Agriculture education easily caters to all learning styles providing visual, kinesthetic and auditory teaching methods.From early on, society encourages children to consider “what they want to be when they grow up.” While many answers are simple, familiar responses such as firefighter, teacher or doctor, those are just three of the wide world of careers available, each requiring varying levels of post-high school training. Between 2015 and 2020 we expect to see 57,900 average annual openings for graduates with bachelor’s degrees or higher in agriculture.  A farmer or veterinarian may be popular career choices amongst children, but reality is agriculture needs scientists, engineers, business managers, marketing professionals, graphic designers, agronomists, animal nutrition specialists, food processors, packaging engineers, mechanics, welders, electricians, educators, and government officials. (source: USDA, AFNR Employment Opportunities)

What are the most important components in agricultural education?
There are five basic groupings of agricultural literacy lessons: Agriculture and the Environment; Plants and Animals for Food, Fiber and Energy; Food, Health and Lifestyle; STEM; and Culture, Society, Economy and Geography. These National Agricultural Literacy Outcomes developed by the National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization focus agriculture learning and assist in aligning lessons with national education standards. If K-12 teachers utilize these groupings when incorporating agriculture into curriculum, students will effectively gain an understanding of agriculture in their daily life.

As with any topic of study, utilizing authentic resources, which are founded in research-based theory is also an important component of agricultural education. Product marketing can often lead consumers astray as to the potential health benefits or risks of food and fiber products. Focusing on teaching accurate agricultural lessons from credible resources will mitigate this confusion in the grocery store aisles. 

myfarmWhat are some easy first steps or activities for agricultural education, that a teacher or parent can try?
In Michigan, agriculture is all around us! Ready to go lesson plans paired with state and national standards can be found online from Michigan Agriculture in the Classroom or search more options from the National Agriculture in the Classroom organization. Play learning games on your tablet or computer from My American Farm or visit their educator center for free to download lessons and activities.  Gain first-hand knowledge by visiting farm markets around the state, the Michigan 4-H Children’s Garden at MSU, Michigan Grown Michigan Great or any of these Breakfast on the Farm events. Other national organizations such as Nutrients for Life, Journey 2050, Discovery Education, Food Dialogues or Best Food Facts provide great resources for agriculture, food and natural resource learning!

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Some time ago, The Henry Ford’s digitization team started a project to digitize selected photographs of Greenfield Village buildings. More than 2800 photos and two years later, we have finally completed this project, a celebration marked by the team with mini-cupcakes and commemorative coasters featuring some of our favorite images from the project.

While all the buildings have a strong relationship to Henry Ford—the majority were selected by him and added to the Village under his watch—the final building we imaged is one of the most important to Henry’s story: his birthplace. We imaged over 175 photos of Ford Home, including this November 5, 1920 shot of the house on its original site.

Visit our Digital Collections and search on any building name to see more—or see some staff favorite photos in our Expert Set.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

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Every week, guests and researchers visit The Henry Ford’s Reading Room, either physically in the Benson Ford Research Center, or virtually, via our remote research program. The researchers (or our staff, for remote requests) pore through boxes and folders of photographs and documents, and sometimes select key items for imaging. With so much material in our collections, these can be intriguing items we might not have realized were there, and we make many of these digitized images available online so future access becomes even easier for anyone, anywhere. 

One great example is this recently digitized, researcher-requested Ford Motor Company image of a Model T modified with traction to act as a snowmobile. 

Learn more about the services offered by the Benson Ford Research Center (including how to arrange your own Reading Room visit), and be sure to visit our Digital Collections to find more artifacts turned up by you.

Ellice Engdahl is Digital Collections & Content Manager at The Henry Ford.

 

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It's human to want to leave a legacy — some small impact on the world that will outlive us. For the Roddis family of Wisconsin, that legacy comes partially in the form of generations’ worth of clothing, now a part of The Henry Ford Archive of American Innovation.

“What’s absolutely wonderful about this collection is it’s from one family and spans many decades and several generations,” said Jeanine Head Miller, curator of domestic life for The Henry Ford. “Often, people don’t save things to this degree — they get dispersed and their stories are lost.”

The Roddis family was a successful middleclass family living in Marshfield, Wisconsin, from the 1890s to the 2010s. William H. Roddis moved to this small town from Milwaukee with his wife, Sara, and his son Hamilton and daughter Frances in 1894. There, he turned a struggling veneer business into the thriving Roddis Lumber and Veneer Company. His son Hamilton continued this success. And there, Hamilton Roddis and his wife, Catherine Prindle, raised a family of five daughters and one son.

Though living in a small town away from urban centers, the well-educated Roddis family was in touch with the larger world. The Roddis women loved stylish clothes and found ways to keep up with fashion. “Their closets held garments available in the stores of Milwaukee, Chicago, New York or Paris — as well as stylish garments made by Catherine,” Miller said.

Though the family was prosperous, they didn’t have an unlimited clothing budget, stocking their closets very wisely. “Their clothing was tasteful, beautifully designed and constructed, but not pretentious,” Miller added.

Hamilton and Catherine’s daughter Augusta played a key role in preserving the generations of the family’s garments acquired by The Henry Ford, storing items in her family home’s third-floor attic for decades.

Augusta Roddis died in 2011. The Henry Ford acquired her treasured collection in 2014. American Style and Spirit: 130 Years of Fashions and Lives of an Entrepreneurial Family goes on exhibit in the museum on November 5.

“Now that The Henry Ford is the custodian of the collection, it is our responsibility to preserve these garments for the future,” said Fran Faile, textile conservator at The Henry Ford. “We do that by housing them in specialized storage areas, exhibiting them only for limited periods of time and ensuring that the materials used for display are safe for the delicate fabrics. We are committed to providing the best possible care for the artifacts entrusted to us.”

Even the most delicate of repairs are considered carefully, she added.

“In the end, what the family appreciated about The Henry Ford was that we valued the context,” noted Miller. “The garments are lovely and interesting to look at, yet they take us beyond, into broader stories of America. So the collection is about more than just fashion. It’s about people — and the American experience spanning more than 130 years.” 

This story originally ran in the June-December 2016 issue of The Henry Ford Magazine.
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The original paint surface on the 1967 Ford Mark IV race car is very unstable. The Stringo helps us move the car with minimal handling.

Moving cars can seem like a no-brainer – they are designed to move, and they are at the core of our modern understanding of mobility. Much of our modern infrastructure, from roads and bridges to GPS satellites, is designed around getting cars to move from place to place quickly and efficiently. Cars that drive themselves seems a likelihood that is just around the corner.

So moving cars that are part of museum collections shouldn’t be a big deal, should it? Well, you’d be surprised.

The Henry Ford has over 250 cars, trucks, and other motorized vehicles in its collection, and each presents its own special set of problems when it comes moving them. To start, we keep only a handful of cars operational at any one time, and even those that are operational can’t be run indoors. So we have to push cars, which has the effect of making every little detail about the cars a big deal.

Do the tires hold air? Do the wheels roll? Do the brakes work? Does the transmission and drivetrain move freely, or is the engine stuck in gear? What kind of transmission does it have? How heavy is the car? Is it gas, electric or steam powered? Does the car need electric power to release the steering or move the transmission? What parts of the car body can be touched? Is the paint stable or flaking; is it original or was the vehicle repainted? Is the interior original or replaced? Can you sit on the seats or hold the steering wheel? All of these questions and more go into our decisions about how were go about moving one of our historic vehicles.

We make use of a variety of tools to help us move cars: dollies, rolling service jacks, Go-Jaks ®, flat carts or rolling platforms, slings, and forklifts. Some cars are easy, and move into place with one person steering and a few pushing. We use dollies or rolling jacks to move the car in tight quarters, or if the wheels don’t roll properly. Other cars are more problematical – we’ve even removed body sections of cars with fragile paint, to avoid having to push on those surfaces. Others have fragile tires which can’t even support the weight of the car. Moving a car like that is more like moving a large sculpture than a vehicle.

Recently, we’ve added a new tool to our car-moving toolbox. Thanks to a generous gift from the manufacturer, we’ve acquired a Stringo ® vehicle mover. It’s a bit like an electric pallet jack for cars – it picks up and secures two wheels of a car and then pulls or pushes the car where ever it needs to go. We can make car moves now with just one or two people, instead of as many as six, and can do it almost without touching the car at all.

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We moved this 1901 Columbia Electric Victoria on floor jacks. The tires were old and brittle, so they rolled poorly.

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The Goldenrod, a 1965 land speed racer had its own set of rolling gantries for moving.

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This 1950 Chrysler New Yorker can roll on its own tires.

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To get this 1959 Cadillac up onto an exhibition platform, we needed to get it on dollies, and roll it up a ramp.

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Our Stringo captures the front wheels of the 1964 Mustang and moves it, so a car can be moved by one person.

With hundreds of car moves ahead of us in the not-to-distant future, we are looking forward to making good use of our new Stringo ®.   

Jim McCabe is Special Projects Manager at The Henry Ford.